In 2022 sani2c brought back the mighty nonstop ride. 250 km on one shot from Glencairn to Scottburgh, starting in the night and riding into the glorious dawn along the famous sani2c route. In 2023 it falls on the 13th and 14th of May, so if you’re preparing ro ride it, you better be getting that saddle time in!
The sani2c nonstop is no normal ultra marathon. There is a high volume of singletrack and a lot of interaction with your support crew along the way. Training for a ride of this nature requires some specific attention. Making sure you bike us up for the challenge, equally important. And don’t forget to eat well so your engine can run all day long!
We got in touch with some experts on training and nutrition; Johann Wykerd, from Absolute Motion, and Bevan Reddy, of NutriHealth, to find out what the intrepid nonstop riders can do to train and eat for success! Keep an ear out for another article coming here soon where we hear from the riders of the 2022 nonstop what lessons they learned and how they would prepare differently for their next attempt.
How to train well for sani2c nonstop
WA: Johann, What is the best thing that you can do to prepare your body for 12-20 hours of mountain biking?
Johann: South Africans just love ultra endurance events, don’t we. And when we have someone like sani2c offering you the opportunity to test yourself in riding this event non-stop, many of us just cannot resist!
What makes sani2c non-stop a bit different from other ultra marathons is that you will ride a lot more single track than what you would normally find in ultra marathons. And with this comes additional challenges. You would see people who ride the Munga using tri-bars on their bikes to lie on … this is not possible at sani2c non-stop.
So, to come back to your question. I am going to assume that you are a serious rider to attempt this race and that you will be fit. Other than staying “bike-fit” I would really focus on strength and conditioning. Spending time in the gym will strengthen your core and upper body and this will allow you to control your bike effectively after many hours in the saddle. It will also assist in buffering fatigue as a whole. So yes … hit the gym.
WA: Strengthening the core sounds like a smart idea given the fatiguing nature of the ride. What would your advice be on resting and recovering during the ride? Are power naps, sit downs recommended or is it best to try and stay on the bike and keep the legs turning?
Johann: You will be putting your body under extraordinary stress. It is therefore critical that you have a very good fuelling strategy. You cannot afford to go into a calorie deficit. When this happens, your body will start to “shut down” other important functions and you will not have the best possible experience.
Recovery starts when you start your race. You need to fuel from the start. Some people have a very clear sleep/rest strategy and will make sure they have a 30 min power nap every 3-4 hours and other people will go for longer before getting off their bikes.
I don’t think there is a right or wrong strategy, but do believe it’s important to at least have a strategy and not just to wing your rest and then to fail 50km from the finish. I also think that when you decide to stop, get off your bike, lie down and close your eyes. To rest we need to cut-out the stimuli we get through our eyes. Oh, and set an alarm, haha!
WA: Very interesting! Would you advise making any adjustments to your bike setup for more comfort / fatigue resistance?
Johann: As I mentioned at the start of our conversation, sani2c non-stop is a bit different to most ultra-marathons because of the amount of single track. I would therefore make sure my bike is set-up in a way very similarly to what it would look like for the normal sani2c. If you set it up too much in comfort mode you could find it difficult to control your bike on the trails.
One thing I would definitely do is to make sure my saddle is comfortable and I will have a number of cycling pants changes along the way and to use bum-cream liberally. You do not want to get saddle sores half-way through this one.
Bike setup tips for sani2c nonstop
Off the back of Johann’s advice, let’s highlight a few key points of bike setup for the sani2c terrain.
- Opting for a smaller chainring if you ride a 1 X drivetrain will help you winch your way up the tougher climbs when you’ve got fatigued legs (or to save your legs earlier on).
- Soft grips will reduce the vibrations going into your hands and reduce fatigue. Some padded gloves will also benefit you here.
- Raising your handlebar height either through adding spacers under the stem or buying a higher ride handlebar can take some weight off of your hands in your normal riding position.
- Make sure your saddle is comfortable for long riders and that the foam doesn’t collapse over time and leave you feeling the shell of the saddle on your tender regions.
- Tires with a bigger volume (2.25-2.4 inches) will allow for lower pressures that can also reduce vibrations and fatigue.
- It is also imperative that you have your suspension setup sorted by a competent friend or bike shop to maximise your pedalling and terrain conforming efficiency!
Good nutrition practices for sani2c nonstop
Keeping the engine running for 12-20 hours of effort is not an easy feat. We reached out to sani2c’s official nutrition partner Bevan Reddy from NutriHealth to get some insights on how to fuel your body well for a unique ride like the 250km nonstop. This is what he had to share.
WA: Bevan, I’d imagine staying properly fuelled over an effort as long as sani2c nonstop (12-20 hours) is not easy. What do you recommend in the week approaching the event to ensure you’re getting into your body, assuming a solid healthy diet such as discussed in our previous article as a baseline?
Bevan: In the week approaching any long-distance event, it’s important to maintain a balanced and healthy diet to ensure your body is properly fueled and ready to perform. This means consuming a mix of carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Some good carbohydrate sources include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, while lean proteins can be found in foods such as chicken, fish, and beans.
Healthy fats can be found in foods like nuts, seeds, and avocado. It’s also important to stay hydrated and consume electrolytes, such as potassium and sodium, to help maintain proper fluid balance. Additionally, consider incorporating some pre-event meals or snacks that are familiar and easy to digest to help avoid any gastrointestinal issues during the race.
WA: During the nonstop ride itself, what foods would you recommend for fueling? Should one stick to more normal / whole foods rather than munching through dozens of energy bars?
Bevan: When it comes to fueling during an ultra-long distance cycling race, it’s important to consume a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep your body fueled and energised. Instead of relying solely on energy bars, consider incorporating more whole foods into your nutrition plan, such as fruits, nuts, and sandwiches. These foods can provide a good mix of nutrients and help prevent gastrointestinal issues that can arise from consuming too many energy bars or gels.
Additionally, consider incorporating sports drinks or gels to help replenish electrolytes and provide a quick source of energy. However, it’s important to test out your nutrition plan during training to see what works best for your body and to avoid any unexpected issues during the race.
WA: What would your top 3 tips for nonstop nutrition be, in summary?
- Stay hydrated and consume electrolytes to maintain proper fluid balance and prevent dehydration.
- Consume a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to keep your body fueled and energised, and consider incorporating more whole foods into your nutrition plan to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
- Most importantly test out your nutrition plan during training to see what works best for your body and to avoid any unexpected issues during the race.
There’s plenty of wisdom to digest from Johann and Bevan and we can see it being a recipe for a phenomenal ride at nonstop 2023. Just think about it, 250km of sani2c’s renowned route all in one go! There’s not much that can compare to that!